Reader wants tasty
char siu by the barrel
Lay it over saimin, serve it on a bun, slice it up for a pupu platter. Smoky slices of char siu come to the table in a number of ways, from casual to formal.
Marvin K.L. Lee wants to make his own sweet-flavored Chinese roast pork. "I'm looking for a recipe for char siu cooked in a 50-gallon barrel with charcoal," he writes. "I welcome any suggestions."
Several local cookbooks offer recipes for char siu, but most are lacking when it comes to exact ingredients or instructions. And I couldn't find one that specifically referred to a 50-gallon barrel, although any type of grilled preparation probably would work.
Most recipes call for wet bean curd, cubes of curd preserved in salt and wine. Chinese five-spice, soy sauce, sherry or whiskey and a sweetener (white or brown sugar or honey) also commonly are used.
Outside those general guidelines, there's a lot of room for experimentation with exact proportions and extra flavorings such as garlic or ginger.
The most common preparation is oven-roasting, although some recipes allow for grilling or even microwaving.
The alternative to wet bean curt is hoisin, also made of soy beans, which shows up in simpler recipes.
The recipe that follows is derived mainly from Muriel Kamada Miura's "Hawaiian Pupu Party Planner" and "Favorite Island Cookery IV" from Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin.
Ann Condo Corum, in "Ethnic Foods of Hawaii" (revised edition, Bess Press, 2000) suggests a simpler version: 5 pounds of pork marinated overnight in 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons Hawaiian salt and 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce; then grilled.
Combine marinade ingredients and marinate pork at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.
Char Siu4 pounds lean pork, cut 1-inch thick, in 2-by-6-inch strips
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup sugar (see notes)
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
2 tablespoons wet red bean curd (see notes)
1/4 cup sherry
1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pork strips on a rack in a roasting pan and bake 45 to 60 minutes, until cooked through. Slice thinly before serving. May be served hot or cold.
Char siu also may be grilled over charcoal.
Notes: This recipe uses the least sugar compared to others. If you prefer it sweeter, use up to 2 cups. Brown sugar also can be used, or a mixture of brown sugar and honey. Wet bean curd may be found in jars in Asian groceries such as 99 Ranch Market.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per 3-ounce serving: 310 calories, 20 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 100 mg cholesterol, greater than 900 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrate, 20 g protein *
Food Stuffs: Morsels
Send queries along with name and phone number to:
"By Request," Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
500 Ala Moana, No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813.
Or send e-mail to email@example.com
Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.